Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Boutique Sees Batik as Masterpiece

The house at the corner of a quiet residential area in West Cilandak, South Jakarta, is not imposing. Its gray steel gates are half-obscured by the lush hedgerows surrounding the house. There is no sign or marker to indicate the gallery inside. Yet its loyal patrons, who include the city’s socialites and expatriates, recognize Srihana Batik Tulis (Srihana Handmade Batik) as one of the capital’s most prestigious boutiques.

While the gallery-cum-boutique specializes in showcasing masterpieces by Indonesia’s batik maestros, it also stocks kebaya (traditional blouses), jewelry and even sandals.

“Srihana was definitely a pioneer,” said Sudarmadji Damais, the nephew of the late Anneke Idham, who co-founded the business in 1973.

“There weren’t any boutiques featuring batik or Indonesian traditional clothing at that time. They thought, ‘Who’d buy it?’ But my aunt, with her idealism and passion for Indonesia’s cultural heritage, decided to go for it.”

Displayed against the gallery’s whitewashed wall is a beautiful batik piece featuring two pink roosters fighting on black soil scattered with roses.

“It’s ‘Sawunggaling,’ a masterpiece by Indonesian batik maestro Go Tik Swan,” said Neneng Iskandar, the co-founder and manager of Srihana.

Go’s masterpieces have been a huge influence on Srihana ever since the business first opened its doors.

The maestro’s talent also caught the eye of President Sukarno, who in 1955 asked Go to create “batik Indonesia.”

“At the time, batik was not as varied as it is today,” Neneng said.

“Its patterns were clearly segregated.

There were patterns that were uniquely Yogyakarta’s, Solo’s and Pesisir’s. But Sukarno, being a true nationalist, wanted to unite all these patterns.”

Deeply moved by the president’s request, Go combined the more demure batik patterns of Solo and Yogyakarta with the bold patterns and vibrant colors of Pesisir.

The maestro’s “batik Indonesia” was then presented to the president.

His creations were well-received and soon became very popular among the country’s elite and foreign dignitaries.

Drawing inspiration from Go’s work, Srihana’s debut fashion show took place in 1974, at the 23rd annual conference of the Pacific Asia Travel Association in Jakarta.

And keeping with tradition, Srihana still features batik by Indonesia’s greats.

Srihana Batik Tulis
Jl. KH Muhasyim Buntu
No. 12 Tarogong, Cilandak Barat South Jakarta
Tel. 021 754 6373
Open on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Make an appointment prior to visiting.
Batik prices start at Rp 600,000
Batik-making classes cost Rp 100,000 per session

Full article by Sylviana Hamdani

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